Chancroid – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

There are several sexually transmitted diseases that are commonly known to man; however, there are still quite a few that are yet to be popular, although their infections can be said to be quite as dangerous as the others. One of such STDs includes Chancroid.

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Chancroid is a sexually transmitted disease that is prevalent all over the world but is more prevalent in third world countries as well as in developing countries. Unlike any other sexually transmitted disease, Chancroid is known to be a genital ulcer disease.

This is because it causes large open sores that are seen around the genital areas of both men and women.

This infection is a bacterial infection that is caused by a bacteria named Haemophilus ducreyi. This bacteria often attacks the genital region and causes open sores, which are called ulcers or Chancroid.

This disease is quite common in Africa, but it is rarely seen in the United States of America. Just like syphilis, once you have Chancroid, you become susceptible to developing any kind of sexually transmitted disease.

According to research, once a person has Chancroid, the person has a higher chance of contracting the Human Immunodeficiency Virus popularly known as HIV.

This is because once there is an open sore on the genitalia of an uninfected person, having sex with an infected person will allow the virus to easily pass into the bloodstream as such infecting the other person.

The skin can pose a little bit of barrier to this infection, but once there is no skin (as seen on the open sores), the virus becomes easily transmissible.

Causes of Chancroid

As said earlier, Chancroid is a bacterial infection that is caused by Haemophilus ducreyi, which leads to the formation of ulcers. These ulcers tend to bleed, causing the spread of contagious fluid that carries bacteria.

Once the infected person has any sexual intercourse, either vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an uninfected person, it will lead to the subsequent infection of the genitals of the uninfected person.

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Chancroid has an incubation period. This period is the time it takes for symptoms of the disease to start manifesting after its initial entry.

The incubation period for this disease is usually within 4-10 days. Sometimes, the incubation period can span up to 35 days before the manifestation of symptoms begins.

Once the infection has stayed up to its incubation period, the patient begins to show symptoms of open sores. Then the patient can be said to be contagious as anyone who has sexual contact with this infected patient will immediately become infected.

Signs and symptoms

The first sign that a person who has Chancroid will experience is the presence of red and open sores. Sometimes, these early signs can be mistaken for syphilis. This is because a person who has syphilis also may experience open wounds at first.

However, the patient who has Chancroid will develop small pustules, which will quickly become an open sore within 4 to 10 days after the initial exposure to the bacteria.

After this, the ulcers begin to expand and grow larger and more painful. However, a person who experiences syphilis may not have a massive sore as that person who has Chancroid.

Asides the presence of an open sore, a person who has Chancroid, will also experience inflammation and swelling of the lymph nodes as well as tenderness around the lymph nodes of the groin.

These other signs are vital in differentiating between Chancroid and syphilis as a person who has syphilis will not experience tenderness and inflammation around the lymphatic nodes present in the groin.

Due to the fact that Chancroid is one of the rare forms of STDs present in the U.S., adequate research hasn’t been properly carried out on this disease. Some doctors even find it difficult to test for this disease.

Hence, according to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), they have advised doctors that Chancroid can still be diagnosed without having to search for the causative agent, which is Haemophilus ducreyi.

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Instead, a doctor can look out for the following signs in order to accurately diagnose a patient of having Chancroid:

  • The presence of one or more open sores around the genitalia of a patient.
  • The presence of ulcers and inflammation which are often painful around the groin area.
  • The patient has tested negative for syphilis using both macroscopic and microscopic analysis, especially after 7days since the open sores appeared.
  • The patient has tested negative for all pointers of herpes, which is a far more common sexually transmitted disease, especially in the United States.
  • For men, the open sores are often seen around the penis and the scrotum
  • For women, the open sores are often seen around regions between the labia and the anus. The labia are folds of skin that are found just before the clitoris. They are often regarded as the opening of the external vagina.

After the sores burst open, the woman will also experience pains while urinating or during defecation and bowel movements.

  • The ulcers are often seen to have a softcore that is usually with defined sharp edges with a yellowish-grey color.
  • If touched, the ulcers have the tendency to bleed.

Risk factors associated with Chancroid

There are certain factors that can place a person at risk of becoming infected with Chancroid and these factors include;

1. Being sexually active

Being sexually active places you at risk of developing this disease quickly a d the reason is that this disease in the first instance is sexually transmitted. This means that the only way to contact this disease is through sex, and if you are having sex (either anal sex or sex through the vaginal opening), you are at risk of developing it.

2. Low immune system

If you have already been immune-compromised by having a previous disease that reduced the activity of your immune system, then you are susceptible to any disease, including Chancroid.

3. Having multiple sexual partners

Having numerous sexual partners not only increases your risk of developing Chancroid, but it also increases the chances of you spreading the infection am on your sexual partners.

4. Frequent traveling

If you are a frequent traveler and always visiting new places and regions, you will be more at risk of contracting Chancroid.

5. Being a heterosexual

Being a heterosexual increases your chances of developing multiple sexually transmitted diseases, and one of them may be Chancroid.

6. Sex with commercial sex workers

Having sexual contacts with commercial sex workers increases your chances of developing most STDs, including Chancroid.

Treatments

Since Chancroid is caused by bacteria, you will be prescribed to take antibiotics as treatments. These antibiotics will help to kill the bacteria, and after that, healing starts to take place as the ulcers begin to dry up within 2-3weeks.

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Sometimes, depending on the severity of the swelling and the pains, your doctor might prescribe the use of painkillers. However, if this disease is left untreated, the ulcers tend to get bigger and destroy the part of the skin where it is found.

Prevention

  1. The major prevention of Chancroid is for you to practice safe sex. If you are not sure about the health status of your partner, use a condom.
  2. Ensure that you don’t engage in sex with your partner till the sores heal up entirely, and the antibiotic treatments have been completed.
  3. Ensure that you test yourself and your partner regularly for any form of the disease, as this will help you detect Chancroid very early.
Deborah Akinola
Wirter, poet and public speaker

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